With a screenplay by George A. Romero based on stories by Stephen King, Creepshow 2 carries on delivering frights and delights just like the fantastic anthology original Creepshow.
Keeping firm to the EC comic flavour of the first film with animated intervals and the constant presence of the Creepshow comic book the Creep (played in the live action section by the legendary Tom Savini) is our host guiding us through a trio of terrifying tales.
First up is ‘Old Chief Wood’nhead’ which opens like a social drama detailing the slow decline of a small town which has lost its people and its future. One of the only shops is the General Store run by Ray and Martha Spruce (Naked Gun’s George Kennedy and Road to star Dorothy Lamour) both solid pillars of the community, they have continued to offer charity to the locals even though they are loosing money.
Offered a trove of priceless treasures from the head of the Native American people in lieu of the money they all owe the kind store owners, the Spruce’s feel their luck might be about to change but they are deeply misguided. Enter a gang of violent youths led by the vain and vicious Sam Whitemoon (Holt McCallany from Mindhunter) who set about terrorising the kind couple.
The gang may think no one is watching their heinous crimes however a silent guardian stands outside and springs to life as soon as it is needed to extract a gory revenge.
The second story, entitled ‘The Raft’, is by far my favourite and happens to be one of the horror shorts that has stayed with me ever since I saw it as a teenager. Beautifully simple and starkly scary it sees four youths head to a remote lake with sex, drugs and swimming on their mind.
Making their way to a raft in the middle of the lake they notice a strange circle of oil slick like scum flouting in the clean pure water. Unperturbed by it they continue to party until suddenly one of their number is horrifically consumed by the mysterious and menacing mass, burning the flesh off her body and swallowing her whole. Alone and with no rescue in sight the reaming teens must now fight for their survival against an unforgiving, unknowable, unquenchable threat.
Last up is ‘The Hitch-hiker’ a slick shocker with an urban legend feel that follows Annie Lansing (Moonraker’s Lois Chiles) a cheating wife racing home to keep her husband in the dark about her extramarital affair. Accidentally running down a hitchhiker (Tom Wright) she flees the scene but her hit-and-run becomes a hellish nightmare as the man she killed constantly returns uttering the same sick sarcastic phrase; “Thanks for the ride lady!”
Packed with some great special effects and make up throughout, especially in the climax to the last story, Creepshow 2 has plenty of thrills and chills to keep the audience entertained from start to finish. Solidly directed by Michael Gornick, who was Romero’s director of photography on the first Creepshow as well as on Martin, Day and Dawn of the Dead, there is a good balance of drama, action and horror throughout.
The stories are well scripted with the beginning and end tales offering interesting meditations on the themes of greed, guilt, responsibility and revenge. It is The Raft that shines out darkest of all however mainly because of the complete lack of explanation it offers.
Although it could be seen as an ecological parable it is much more frightening to just place yourself in the unsuspecting teens shoes, facing something primal without mercy or motivation other than to consume them. Whatever it is about this section, it has somehow stayed with me for over 20 years making Creepshow 2 a special sort of movie for sure.
Slammed full of extras including brand new interviews with cast and crew and an audio commentary with director Michael Gornick, Arrow Video’s 2K restoration from original film elements would even keep the Creep happy looking as devilishly good as it did when it was first released.